Thank you for checking out my progress in the Zero Day Challenge! I usually post monthly status updates, but this will be a high-level summary and more geared towards my numbers, and how much I’m saving. For each month, I track the following numbers:
- Monthly Zero Days: zero days in a specific month
- Cumulative Zero Days: running total of zero days
- Total Spending: total non-rent/non-car spending in a specific month
- Monthly Savings: $2975 – total spending
- Cumulative Savings: running total of monthly savings
To explain #4 a bit. $2975 is my average monthly discretionary spending for 2016. Here, I calculate my “monthly savings” using this number — so I can compare my current spending with last year’s spending.
This doesn’t capture my real savings because my income is typically variable. For example, I receive 4 bonuses a month, and I changed jobs this year which mixed things up a bit more. I track it to show you how much I’ve increased my savings, independent of any income changes.
September was an awesome month for the Zero Day Challenge! First of all, I moved back in with our parents. This cut our expenses significantly. You can see that with 19 zero days, I did very well. It’s also the least money that I’ve spent the entire year, coming in at a mere $663.
I also don’t have to pay any more rent, at least for now. That means I saved an extra $1,300 on top of this. So although my September Savings come in at “$2,312,” in reality I saved about $5,900 this month. Let’s see how next month goes!
September Zero Days: 19
Cumulative Zero Days: 131
September Spending: $663
September Savings: $2,312
Cumulative Savings: $12,369
So here’s the thing. I’ve done a great job eliminating those random expenses that wreak havoc on your budget. For those of you who follow me, you’re used to very little spending on worthless stuff.
But something always seems to come up, and August was no different. My August spending was high, really high. But where did the majority come from? Well, my brake rotors had minor disintegration and that repair cost $1,100. I also bought my FinCon17 plane tickets which were $175. These two expenses account for more than half of my total budget. Oops.
I can’t really avoid the car repair, my brakes were less than 50% effective. And FinCon, well I won a scholarship which saved me $469 on the registration fee. I’m excited to go and I’ll make sure to spread the Zero Day Challenge word! September will be much cheaper, which I’m looking forward to.
August Zero Days: 15
Cumulative Zero Days: 113
August Spending: $2,298
August Savings: $677
Cumulative Savings: $10,057
July was actually a great month for the Zero Day Challenge. I had a modest 14 zero days, but went over my sending goal by almost $1,000. You can see that my spending was great until July 25th. That’ when I decided to buy a new laptop.
My old laptop was more than 6 years old. The hard drive was making noise, the keyboard didn’t work well, and the screen creaked. So I needed something new. As a tech person, I tend to buy more expensive things that last longer. So I bought a $1,500 Razer Blade Stealth. Much better than buying a $300 – $400 laptop that is slow and dies in 2-3 years.
July Zero Days: 14
Cumulative Zero Days: 98
July Spending: $2,301
July Savings: $674
Cumulative Savings: $9,380
June could have been better. I had a few bigger expenses that sent my spending much higher. This included $100 in cruise expenses, $180 in E-ZPass, $100 in work equipment and $200 in gifts for my groomsmen.
Without these, my spending would have been under my $1325 per month goal. Definitely a fun month, and I can do better. Except I won’t in July because I need a new computer 🙁
June Zero Days: 14
Cumulative Zero Days: 84
June Spending: $1,704
June Savings: $1,271
Cumulative Savings: $8,706
May was the second month that I was under my spending goal! In fact, I didn’t even hit $1,000. This is even with $180 in E-ZPass charges. Their technology is so bad that they need to pre-charge your account, instead of just charging when you drive through.
This was also a very exciting month. I went on an awesome vacation with Julia’s parents. This is definitely my ideal spending per month.
May Zero Days: 15
Cumulative Zero Days: 70
May Spending: $975
May Savings: $2,000
Cumulative Savings: $7,435
April saw reduced spending which is in the right direction! My spending would have been much lower, but I ended up taking my dad out to dinner to the tune of $420. It was a great dinner!
We’re starting to see a motif here. When I spend a lot of money on something, I do it for somebody else not me. This brings me a lot more happiness than just buying things for myself.
April Zero Days: 17
Cumulative Zero Days: 55
April Spending: $1,656
April Savings: $1,319
Cumulative Savings: $5,435
March had higher spending too. I ended up buying Julia a Nintendo Switch and also had to buy work clothes to the tune of $350. A solid investment, I increased my salary by more than 25%!
By March, I had pretty much stopped buying things for myself that I don’t need. I did go to a few happy hours with my coworkers before I left my job, and I did bake a few thins for my new employer, but that’s it.
March Zero Days: 9
Cumulative Zero Days: 38
March Spending: $2,298
March Savings: $677
Cumulative Savings: $4,116
February is when I introduced my dry erase board! Seriously, this thing is awesome. It feels great coming home and drawing a big fat 0! This month saw increased spending because I built a bug in bag. Basically, a set of equipment that I can use in case of emergency.
This month’s spending was obviously higher by several hundred bucks. The thing is, I’m now more secure because I can weather an extended snowstorm or power outage.
February Zero Days: 13
Cumulative Zero Days: 29
February Spending: $1,615
February Savings: $1,360
Cumulative Savings: $3,439
January was my first month trying out the Zero Day Challenge. I worked extremely hard to keep my spending pretty flat. You can see my spending line (blue) moving readily in the beginning of the month. By the end, I was only really buying food and gas — at that point, all I needed.
I lived an extremely frugal lifestyle during January. My total spending for the month was $896 (excluding rent and car payment). I did a great job setting the pace for the challenge, especially because my average monthly spending for 2016 was $3,000.
January Zero Days: 16
Cumulative Zero Days: 16
January Spending: $896
January Savings: $2,079
Cumulative Savings: $2,079